Who couldn’t see this coming?

Doctors should have the right to take organs from patients who want to die so they can be used in transplant surgery, a prominent medical researcher has suggested.
Those who want to be killed should be sedated in hospital then allowed to die after the removal of their vital organs, according to the proposal published by a British-based medical ethics journal.
Using organs for transplant surgery from patients who have been helped to die is allowed in Belgium and Holland, the European countries where euthanasia is legal.
But ‘dead donor’ rules mean there must be a gap between the death of the patient and the removal of organs, with the delay meaning their quality may decline.

And there’s people out there who tell us that slippery slope arguments aren’t valid in logic.

35 comments on “Who couldn’t see this coming?

  1. The slippery slope argument is nothing to do with logic. It is empirical – based on observing human behaviour. It is, if you like, science rather than philosophy.

  2. The elderly are constantly told they are a burden on society, that they occupy the houses that the young want, the police don’t want them to drive and if you are old and want medical care you get waiting lists instead.
    Is it not inevitable that age rationing will occur and discreet gas chambers appear. All in the name of fairness etc. of course.
    Their organs might come in handy too.

  3. John Malpas, those are great points.

    I’m not at all unsympathetic to those who want to die with dignity and minimal pain in the face of devastating disease, but I am really uncomfortable with the construction of a society that seems determined to force the “unwanted” out of this world, or make them feel guilty and unwelcome if they have the temerity to stick around.

    Can’t say I am happy about euthanasia being touted as the “ultimate cure” for depression, either. (Not everyone getting euthanised on the Continent has a looming date with death by virtue of terminal illness – depression counts as “unbearable suffering” too.) The mentally ill presumably have more attractive organs than the elderly to boot. If I develop a mental health issue, I really don’t want anyone “persuading” my sick self – even if just by “explaining what my options are” – that the docs should top me off.

    Oh, and if I choose not to go gently into the night, I will be burdened by the guilt of those who have died or suffered because I didn’t give my organs to them instead. That’s really going to help.

  4. The elderly are constantly told they are a burden on society, that they occupy the houses that the young want, the police don’t want them to drive and if you are old and want medical care you get waiting lists instead.

    Well, the elderly (and the soon-to-be elderly) have been living high on the future generations’ dime and expect to hand them a hefty bill that will screw them for life. Unsurprisingly, these young folk don’t have much sympathy for the elderly – especially if they are sitting in a £500k house thanks to ruinous government policies that they fought tooth and nail to maintain.

  5. Donor organs are already taken before the donor is officially dead. The criterion is that the patient must be deemed to be brain-dead with no possibility of any sort of recovery but the body is kept “alive” on a ventilator.

  6. Tim Newman

    On any meaningful measure the young today are vastly better off than the current elderly were at the same age. If they don’t believe that they can look it up through Google on their smart phone in the restaurant they are sitting in on their foreign City Break.

    And, yes, the elderly are leaving large debts to the young whilst ensconced in their £500,000 house, but that has been an inter-generational thing for pretty much the whole of the modern period and guess who gets to inherit the house?

  7. Henry Crun – “Donor organs are already taken before the donor is officially dead. The criterion is that the patient must be deemed to be brain-dead with no possibility of any sort of recovery but the body is kept “alive” on a ventilator.”

    The problem is that these terms are more an Art than a Science. What does it mean to be brain dead? People have recovered from “brain death”. Not many I grant. No possibility? You mean the doctor who wants some organs is willing to sign a form to that end? That works so well with abortion.

    The main problem is that you can’t take organs from people who have been given drugs such as your typical anaesthetic. “Brain dead” donors do sometimes show brain activity while organs are harvested that suggests more might be going on that the doctor knows.

    So how do you take organs from healthy patients who are not dead if you can’t pump them full of drugs? What are the normal drugs used in euthanasia going to do to the organs? This may work in theory but in practise?

  8. Define elderly. I’m 60 later this year, does this mean I have a date with some hemlock to look forward to?

  9. “The slippery slope argument is nothing to do with logic. It is empirical – based on observing human behaviour. It is, if you like, science rather than philosophy.”

    Not really right. Slippery slope arguments are not a part of deductive logic, because such an argument is never deductively valid, but deduction isn’t all logic is. You can build a good inductive argument using slippery slope reasoning. Inductive logic is just as much a part of logic as deduction is, even if ‘deductivists’ try to suggest otherwise. (The ‘logical fallacies’ you see mentioned in textbooks are misnamed. They’re all fallacies in deductive logic, but not all of them are logical fallacies more generally speaking.)

  10. Bloke in North Dorset – “Define elderly. I’m 60 later this year, does this mean I have a date with some hemlock to look forward to?”

    It doesn’t mean you have nothing to look forward to except a nice pair of slippers and a cup of warm cocoa?

    But on the plus side, they probably don’t want your organs. At your age, they are not worth that much. Your corneas perhaps. The ideal donor is young, male, and dead from a head injury. A motorcycle rider for instance.

  11. SMFS, I can only speak from my experience as a military theatre nurse and the couple of occasions when I was present for such operations.

    One was a young lass (naval officer’s wife) who had an adverse reaction to an anaesthetic drug during a caesarian section and the other was a young infantryman involved in a hit and run. Both were considered to have no brain activity and were being kept alive on a ventilator. In both cases the families opted to donate the organs and switch off the ventilator.

  12. “Well, the elderly (and the soon-to-be elderly) have been living high on the future generations’ dime and expect to hand them a hefty bill that will screw them for life. Unsurprisingly, these young folk don’t have much sympathy for the elderly – especially if they are sitting in a £500k house thanks to ruinous government policies that they fought tooth and nail to maintain.”

    Can’t say I’ve been overwhelmed by the wisdom of the young snot that this country produces in such abundance. Nor can I claim to have been living “high on the hog” on the enforced generosity of said young. The youth of this country seem to ooze as much –if not more –rotten socialistic shite as their forebears.

    What old people need is GUNS. Don’t finish your days in NHS misery being cannibalized by medical dross. Arm yourself and meet your end in a re-staging of the finale of “The Wild Bunch” Hell this country is so full of scumbags you would be spoiled for choice..

  13. The medical ethics journal is simply a holding pen for the mentally unwell to show how more liberal they are than the rest of us unsophisticated rubes.

    Ignore. They are pointless people who are worthless.

  14. One was a young lass (naval officer’s wife) who had an adverse reaction to an anaesthetic drug during a caesarian section

    Jaysus. I hate stories like this. Tragic.

  15. The youth of this country seem to ooze as much –if not more –rotten socialistic shite as their forebears.

    Indeed, hence not strong on empathy and compassion.

  16. Tim Newman, it was one of the few cases that left a lasting impression. I was the theatre nurse for both operations, the caesarian and the removal of the organs. The other was the amputation of both legs of a young sergeant injured when the landrover he was in was hit by an RPG.

  17. Okay – I’ve just read the actual article, not the crap spouted by the Daily Fail. It will come as little surprise to you that the real story is different.

    First – this is something that is already happening in Belgium and the Netherlands. People who are choosing to die are donating their organs for transplant. The issue is how to do it effectively.

    Second – The authors recognise that this is an issue of self-determination: “In the context of organ donation after euthanasia, the right of self-determination is a paramount ethical and legal aspect. It is the patient’s wish and right to die in a dignified way, and likewise his wish to donate his organs is expressed. Organ donation after euthanasia enables those who do not wish to remain alive to prolong the lives of those who do, and also—compared with ‘classical’ donation after circulatory death—allows many more people to fulfil their wish to donate organs after death. This differs from the more common donation scenario, where relatives have to decide, often without knowing the patient’s wish.”

    Third – there is no suggestion anywhere that this would or should become compulsory.

    So, taking out the shrill whining of the terminally stupid at the Daily Wail, what the article says is that people have choices, and that the law could recognise that people are making rational decisions for themselves and take out some of the perfectly reasonable safeguards that apply in unplanned deaths. As I said – a very different story.

    Just to make my position clear, I am on the organ donor register and a supporter of assisted suicide/elective euthanasia. A life has only the value that the person living it places upon it, and it can become so burdensome that ending it is a rational decision. I do not consider those who want to live life right to the last minute to be wrong – the choice is paramount. Regarding organ donation, I also consider this to be the choice of the person or their relatives. If an opt-out system was introduced where I live, I would immediately remove my details from the register and stop carrying my donor card. It is not for the State to decide these things.

  18. Peter Simple saw this coming about thirty years ago.

    And btw euthanasia isn’t the “ultimate cure”, it is of the course the “final solution”

  19. IP: “Third – there is no suggestion anywhere that this would or should become compulsory.”

    No, there never is.

    At first.

  20. If an opt-out system was introduced where I live, I would immediately remove my details from the register and stop carrying my donor card. It is not for the State to decide these things.

    That was exactly my reaction, when I read about what the Welsh have done.

  21. That was exactly my reaction, when I read about what the Welsh have done.

    That was exactly my reaction too. I registered as “Keep your thieving hands off my corpse” the same day.

  22. What old people need is GUNS. Don’t finish your days in NHS misery being cannibalized by medical dross. Arm yourself and meet your end in a re-staging of the finale of “The Wild Bunch” Hell this country is so full of scumbags you would be spoiled for choice..

    Being brain dead (and so ripe for organ harvesting), you haven’t thought this through, have you? Nothing would bring on euthanasia of the elderly faster than a trend for oldies to go out in terroristic gun battles.

  23. “Nothing would bring on euthanasia of the elderly faster than a trend for oldies to go out in terroristic gun battles.”

    And whose gonna do all this euthanasing of armed and belligerent elders Theo? You? The cops? It took , I believe, 250 armed coppers to bring down six armed and chemically unstable Yardies a few years back.

    I think not.

    Also terrorism has nothing to do with it. Terrorism is about “We want something” –usually to take over the scummy state. The Pension Gang would be purely about a group of old-timers who realise that their day is past and want to go out in style and be revenged on those who have despoiled everything the oldies knew and loved in their youth.

    As directed by Sam Peckinpah.

    Have no fears Theo–no one would waste an expensive bullet on a tired old, gasping on the strand tory bloater such as yourself. The probably wouldn’t want your organs either. But no need to feel left out.

    They will take your investments.

  24. Can totally understand the slippery slope argument on this – but purely from a personal point of view this is exactly how I would want to go. Take a time of my choosing, make it painless and ensure that best use is made of any parts that I haven’t managed to wear out.

    All that is needed to make it perfect is for the surgery bed to flip over and dump the remaining corpse over a shark tank.

  25. JuliaM: “Holland again. What are they putting in the water over there?”

    Our water companies are rather well-known for managing to remove everything the Germans , Belgians and French toss in the big rivers before it enters our country.
    Bottled spring water is less safe.. 😛

    But seriously, here in the Land of Clog and Windmill you most definitely would not want to “harvest” anything from people qualifying for legal euthanasia. In fact, in 99% of the cases it isn’t even allowed because the recipient is *terminally ill*.
    The vast majority of them are terminal cancer cases , with the bulk of the rest made up by other debilitating condition with a contra-indication, by law, for donorship.

    The people that might get “harvested” after euthanasia are the same edge cases which are used world-wide where it’s allowed: end of life support in cases of unrecoverable trauma/coma.
    IF said person has a valid donor registration and if the next of kin don’t interfere.

  26. Intractable Potsherd

    The problem with “self-determination” is that most choices in life aren’t really “free”, particularly not an an individualistic level. Our choices are influenced by our circumstances and environment. And we are seem, as a society, to be downgrading the disabled and elderly in many respects, which can give an unhealthy environment to be making such choices in.

    I don’t like the idea of a society where it has become socially normalised to bow out this way, even without terminal disease. Because combined with a societal message that certain people (the mentally ill, the disabled, the old) are “burdensome”, and the flip side of the “good” you can do by consigning most of your body to the scrapheap and the rest to the spare parts shop, it can quickly become something you feel you “should” do or feel guilty if you don’t. It doesn’t need to be legally compulsory to be troubling.

    Lots of us do stuff all the time that we don’t really, in our heart of hearts, want to do – we do it because it’s the done thing, because everyone else is doing it, because we feel under some kind of pressure to do it. Even major life decisions are seldom rationally calculated, independent of external influences. I don’t want the option of being life-harvested, regardless of how many guarantees there are of “nobody is going to legally force you to”, if it just means I’m going to be gently cajoled into it instead.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.